The Epistemology of Scientific Evidence

43 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2013

See all articles by Douglas Walton

Douglas Walton

University of Windsor

Nanning Zhang

China University of Political Science and Law

Date Written: October 2, 2013


In place of the traditional epistemological view of knowledge as justified true belief we argue that artificial intelligence and law needs an evidence-based epistemology according to which scientific knowledge is based on critical analysis of evidence using argumentation. This new epistemology of scientific evidence (ESE) models scientific knowledge as achieved through a process of marshalling evidence in a scientific inquiry that results in a convergence of scientific theories and research results. We show how a dialogue interface of argument from expert opinion, along with its set of critical questions, provides the argumentation component of the ESE. It enables internal scientific knowledge to be translated over into a wider arena in which individual non-expert citizens and groups can make use of it. The external component shows how evidence is presented and used in a legal procedural setting that includes fact-finding, weighing the credibility of expert witnesses, and critical questioning of arguments. The paper critically reviews the standards of admissibility of scientific evidence using the ESE.

Keywords: expert witness testimony, Carneades Argumentation System, standards of admissibility

Suggested Citation

Walton, Douglas and Zhang, Nanning, The Epistemology of Scientific Evidence (October 2, 2013). Artificial Intelligence and Law, Vol. 21, No. 2, 2013, Available at SSRN:

Douglas Walton (Contact Author)

University of Windsor ( email )

401 Sunset Avenue
Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4

Nanning Zhang

China University of Political Science and Law ( email )

25 Xitucheng Rd
Haidian District

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